Vessel namely Helga sank in Belizean water; 3 people still missing
3 men that were on board a vessel that sank on Saturday night remain missing. An intensive search of the area is ongoing. Our San Pedro Correspondent has been following up on the story and joined the search efforts on Sunday. Jorge Aldana has the details in the following report.
Jorge Aldana – San Pedro Correspondent
An intensive search continues for 3 men who are missing at sea since Saturday night after the vessel they were travelling in sank in Belizean waters. The three missing person have been identified as Captain Arturo Edreira Cuza and crew members Nelson Perez Ardao and Alexis Gonzalez
Sometime around 11:10 on Saturday night, the Belize National Coast Guard received a SOS distress call from a vessel at sea namely HELGA. The vessel captain radioed via channel 16 and indicated that they were experiencing difficulty at sea at 12-20 on the British Honduras Navigational map some 3 miles east of Caye Caulker village.
The Belize National Coast Guard responded first with a vessel that was station on Ambergris Caye but within an hour, the 74 meter vessel had sunk to the bottom of the deep blue sea along with its cargo of salt. On the vessel along with the missing men were 47 year old Iraelio Mengana Garcia, 47 year old Armando Garnado Martinez, 37 year old Antonio Perez Sadez, 49 year old Humberto Iglesias Hernandez, 43 year old Alfredo Porta Martinez, 46 year old Jose Consta Nalia, 38 year old Jorge Herrera Aldana and 39 year old Joaquin Ruiz De Zarate Arribas, all of whom are Cuban Nationals.
When the National Coast Guard responded, the boat had sunk but one hour into the search and rescue mission, at about 1:00 AM, they found the first four Cubans namely Armando Granado Martinez, Iraelio Mengana Garcia, Antonio Perez Sadez and Humberto Iglesias Hernandez floating in an emergency inflatable raft (EIR) some 2 nautical miles from the southernmost Caye Caulker Channel.
Four more men were fished out of the water inside a damaged EIR some 1 ½ nautical miles from the southernmost Caye Caulker Channel sometime around 8:00 AM on Sunday.
All 8 survivors were transported to Caye Caulker Village where they were examined by a doctor and given medical attention. All men were found in good health and were later transferred to Belize City accompanied by the Cuban Ambassador to Belize.
Helga, a Panamanian flagged vessel was leased to a Cuban company as was used for trade. The boat was heading from Panama to Mexico with a cargo of salt. Love News understands that the day of the incident, the wind was blowing at about 15-25 knots and waves were as high as about 15 feet outside the reef, making rescue operations more challenging. According to several experience boat men, the water depth is estimated to be about 13 thousand feet in some areas where sudden drops are found.
There are no visible signs of the boat and all that can be observed are floating devices and other items from off the vessel. 36 hours after the incident the search continues and a team of divers are expected to do some dives in the area where the boat went down. The rescue and search operation is being coordinated by the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) with the support of the Belize National Coast Guard, the Police Department, the Belize Defense Force and other locals from Caye Caulker Village. The sea search is being complimented with an aerial search of the area by the BDF Defender Aircraft. Up to news time the search for captain and two crew members have been intensify with searches from Hol Chan all the way to Saint Georges Caye Village outside and inside the reef and along the islands within that radios.
Reporting for Love News from Caye Caulker Village, I am Jorge Aldana
N.B. Pics on my facebook and as soon as i have more information i will post on my facebook.